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Smart TVs – HIT
In the past, the television industry approached internet connected televisions with some trepidation. User interfaces were blocky, viewing solutions were barely adequate and content was extremely limited. It all just screamed “I’m a low budget add-on to satisfy a trend in consumer demand!”
This year things are much improved, almost certainly thanks to Google TV and the Boxee Box which showed that consumers really do want connected sets. Every company had new sets to display and most had new content partners and built-in wireless internet. No more messing around with USB dongles.
The interfaces have improved hugely as well, and are as much style as function. They incorporate live TV windows to show you what you’re currently watching, as well as plenty of easy access to frequently used functions.
Apps - MISS
Some television developers keep pushing iPhone style applications as the future of TV and I still haven’t seen anything to indicate that. In a market that’s wide open for innovation and inventiveness, devs keep recycling the same product again and again.
Nowhere was this lack of creativity more evident than in Samsung’s press conference, which showcased some of the most popular apps available for the TVs. These included a workout program, a social media sharing program and a version of Pictionary that requires the use of a touchscreen. There’s nothing there that I would even consider using.
Google TV – MISS
Google TV has all but disappeared since its massive initial launch. The once promising platform had almost no presence in the press conferences on Wednesday save one mention from Sony, who simply said that they have it, but did not announce any new Google TV products.
The folks at Samsung didn’t mention any Google TV products in their press conference, but did have a Google TV enabled Blu-ray player on display. In their roundtable discussion, Samsung confirmed that both a Google TV Blu-ray player and set-top box were on the way. There’s nothing in the cards as far as a Google TV enabled TV is concerned.
21:9 Displays – HIT
We were distraught when the 21:9 cinema-wide display was announced last year by Philips. Not because we don’t like it, but because we absolutely love it and there was no plan for a US release. Thankfully, that’s changed.
Even more interesting is the announcement of a line of 21:9 televisions by Vizio. The company has been making some big changes in recent years and the release of premium sets is a huge step forward.
The particular sets on display from Vizio were hand-made prototypes, and as such were less than optimal to say the least. Their representative assured me that the flaws I saw on the prototypes would not be in the final product.
OLED – MISS
As with the last few years, OLED was a miss. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that it was missing. OLED made its presence known in the cell phone market, but where TVs are concerned there was very little new.
OLEDs were on display from all the usual suspects, but gone were the promises of availability in the near future. Every large OLED display was simply a prototype, designed to show off the panel’s advanced 3D capabilities and incredibly clear picture.
It’s getting to the point where we’re ready to write of OLED as something that’s not going to happen. It’s pretty and it’s exciting, but LED backlit LCD displays keep getting better, as do plasmas. The difference between LCD and OLED isn’t as noticeable as it was five years ago, and consumer demand will undoubtedly decrease as well.
What were your hits and misses of CES in regards to video?